Leo Herold Laluna

In the cinematic universe of Star Wars, the cast often creates masterful concepts that bring life to the sci-fi genre such as “Nova Bombs” and “Quantum Engines”. It even brought out the most iconic line in the series, “Come to the dark side” which many netizens like to use in their posts. Despite its fictional nature, perhaps even the dark side can exist in real life. A Filipino scientist recently led a team of researchers to voyage through this field of study.

Photo Courtesy to Dr. Jayson Cosme/Dr. Andreas Hemmerich

Dr. Jayson Cosme, a Filipino theoretical physicist from the University of the Philippines - Diliman College of Science National Institute of Physics (UPD-CS NIP), headed a team of Germany-based researchers in making a unique version of “dark” matter. On April 21, 2023, their results were published in a journal article that shook the scientific community.

Creating dark matter is no simple task. In fact, most concepts surrounding the creation of dark matter are purely theoretical. However, this did not stop Dr. Cosme and his team from attempting to create an accurate representation of dark matter in their experiments.

Prior to the discovery made by Dr. Cosme’s team, scientists are able to utilize laser beams to slow down and “freeze” atoms. This creates a new state of matter called a “Bose-Einstein Condensate” or BEC which was named after the scientists that predicted its existence, famed physicist Albert Einstein and Nath Bose.

Dr. Cosme’s team built on that concept, using modified laser beams to further manipulate BECs in making dark matter. Normally, BECs can be observed by specialized cameras. In contrast, the modified BECs that Dr. Cosme’s team created cannot be observed with the standard methods that one would typically use with BECs. 

“By shaking BECs in the right way, we can cause them to become quantum objects that don’t absorb, reflect, nor emit light—hence, ‘dark’,” the researcher explained. In their journal article, they specifically described their invented representation as “condensate in a dark state.” 

While it may seem far-flung to ordinary citizens like us, knowledge of dark matter is crucial in understanding the universe. In comparison to normal matter which is the type of matter that we can see and touch, dark matter makes up more of the universe (30.1% of the universe is dark matter, the second main component after dark energy.) By furthering the study on the topic, Dr. Cosme and his team put humanity at another step forward in comprehending the nature of the universe.

Dr. Cosme shares his pride in not only collaborating but leading an international team composed of elite researchers in the field. “I’m very honored and thankful to have been the last author on this paper, as my colleagues are all working from Germany,” he expressed. 

If the future of studies related to dark matter is bountiful as Dr. Cosme says it is, then exploring the dark side may not be as bad as it sounds.